Over one hundred years ago, the property that became Camp Strawderman was willed to Doctor Samuel Hoffman by the Strawderman family, Hessian farmers who had settled in the Shenandoah Valley in 1789, right after the Revolution. By 1917, Dr. Hoffman’s daughter, Margaret “Barca” Hoffman, began bringing friends out to the farm for visits that included gallops through Stony Creek on horseback and hikes across the Allegheny mountains on trails that are still there today. All followed by ice cream on the Old House porch*. Barca’s love for the pristine valley and surrounding mountains was infectious. Soon, additional cabins were built to accommodate the many visitors and friends who longed to spend time there and by 1929 Camp Strawderman, named in honor of the original property owners, was established as a private camp for girls by Barca, who remained the camp’s director for more than 50 years. Following Barca, was Barca’s cherished niece, Margaret Hoffman Gouldman who kept the Strawderman traditions alive and well into the present where now the torch has been passed on to Jeanne Mockard. And Jeanne has been part of the camp family since she was a 10year old camper. So, for more than 225 years, this idyllic corner of the Shenandoah Valley, covering over 300 acres of wildflowers and woodland, fields and trails, creeks and springs has been in the loving care of only two families, the Strawdermans and our Camp family, dedicated to preserving the spirit and natural beauty of the valley and sharing it with others.
Camp Strawderman is not a “brand.” It is an ideal. It is not an imitation. It is not re-created. It is an authentic rustic experience that has been preserved. Same as it ever was. Is now and always will be. There is an enduring spirit about Strawderman and that’s what brings girls back generation after generation.
*Several of the original buildings, including the Old House, still stand.